Lesson Six: Find yourself through the stories
I think in themes. It’s a hazard (benefit?) of my literary analysis training and day to day routine with students. I cannot hear, read, watch or see anything without finding the theme of the incident, story, piece, etc.
When we are in elementary school, we are taught that the theme is the moral of the story. This is not incorrect, and when students are stuck, I direct them to start again at this basic step. But now, in my advanced literature classes (sounds fancy, right? Well, remember, it’s still only high school!), we talk about theme in terms of the universal human truth. The thing about the story that relates to being human. The underlying current of understanding and connection. It leads to discussions about archetype and culture and basic humanity. Theme is the language of my every day work life.
And I tend to apply it to the “real” world as well. I have a narrative mind that turns each and every situation into a fictional story – which means that it must have been built with all of the nuts, bolts, stylistic choices and literary tools and devices authors use. I do not give enough credit to random coincidence or purposeless happenings. Some might call it a faith in a higher power – some puppet master/story writer of our fates – that everything happens for a reason, but it really could just be my English teacher default 11th-grade-lit-analysis brain setting.
Whatever it is, I like it. I feel better thinking that there is a lesson or purpose behind everything and that my life has some significant meaning. (Students of mine will be very familiar with this vernacular of mine: significant moments, meaning, universal human truth…)
I recently read that a “successful blog” should have a theme. And I have struggled with this – I do not want to have a separate blogs each for my education musings, my mommy blogging, and yet another for my writing practice. Maybe those are genres, categories, not themes, but still – what is my theme here?
I started off my posts with “Lessons” and I kind of trailed off from that because it seemed a little kitschy, but it is the truth of my perspective and how my brain works. I am writing this blog to make my own life lessons apparent to myself.
To teach myself how to look, notice, appreciate, be grateful.
To teach myself to write regularly.
So whether my readership is just me or if there are countless of you out there, that is my purpose here. You may notice motifs arise and threads of themes begin to weave from post to post, whether they are tagged parenting or teaching, and my aim is to make that more purposeful.
Truth be told, this is a challenging time for me. I am grabbing my story by the reigns and making purposeful notes to change it. Don’t get me wrong: I have everything I need to be happy – the most wonderful family, a good job, great friends, a sturdy home – and I am happy, but I am also unsettled and uncomfortable. I am at a crossroads (is it my age? The mid-30s?) and I am going to write until this path is clear.
Thank you for all of your support and guidance, friends, readers, universe, story writer in the sky. I am looking closely at the beautiful things in my life and I am listening and I am writing.
So, theme? Universal human truth?
How about self-discovery?
One must know oneself to be happy. This is my bildungsroman* (just started a little later in life than Scout Finch or Holden Caulfield).
*German, a novel about the main character’s moral, psychological, or spiritual growth.